West Quoddy Head Light, Lubec, Maine, USA by Michael Blanchette

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Picture Story

Lubec, Maine, is the easternmost town in the contiguous United States. West Quoddy Head Light sits on an easterly-pointing peninsula in Lubec, near the Canadian border. The first lighthouse tower was erected here in 1808, with the current lighthouse constructed in 1858. It is one of Maine’s most recognized lighthouses, painted in alternating red and white stripes.

I took this photo on a clear evening in August. As with many night photos, this image is a composite of several frames taken over the course of several hours. My tripod and camera remained in the same spot for the duration (about 3 hours).

Earlier in the day, I scouted the location and noticed pristine white lilies near the wood fence. So, I returned around sunset with the intention of including the lilies in the foreground. But in order to avoid breeze effect in the grasses and flowers, I photographed the foreground with the wildflowers and fence at twilight using a faster shutter speed. I took the foreground photo at 1/10 second using an aperture of f/5.6 at ISO 800.

Since the sea tends to look black and colorless in total darkness, I took a second frame a bit later during twilight to bring out the color of the ocean. The sea frame was a 10-second exposure taken at an aperture of f/2.8 and ISO 800.

Having photographed the foreground and water at various stages of twilight, I then waited for the Milky Way to be in position, about a third into the frame from the left. When the time came, I took a “star stack” of the sky involving 10 consecutive frames — all 10-second exposures with an aperture of f/2.8 and a high ISO of 8000. These ten sky frames were later blended to yield a single file using the Macintosh software application, StarryLandscapeStacker. The resulting foreground, sea, and sky files were then carefully blended to produce this final image, using layers and masks in Adobe Photoshop.

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